This morning, I awoke to the news that David Bowie died.
Truthfully, I can’t name one David Bowie song or album. He shot to fame when I was working full time as a nurse and raising three kids on my own. Also, I don’t pay much attention to music. It’s just not my thing.
Yet, moments after hearing the news, I was brought to tears when I read the following Facebook post from my only niece, who has always been a huge fan of David Bowie. Here’s what she said:
“As a misfit kid who always felt alienated and out of place in middle and high school, Bowie saved my life. He helped me realize it’s cool to be weird and different. I remember driving around aimlessly with my brother blasting Hunky Dory at top volume, playing Ziggy Stardust, Diamond Dogs, and my well worn Aladdin Sane tape on the hour bus ride to and from high school, my brother buying me Low when I went to visit him in college and I was sad about being left alone, playing Heroes, Station to Station, and The Man Who Sold the World on vinyl over and over and dreaming of who I would be and what I would do when I got out of Indiana, listening to Scary Monsters and Space Oddity on repeat while working on projects in college, seeing the Bowie exhibit at the MCA and being overwhelmed at how amazing and beautiful and talented a man he was…Bowie was there for me in every phase of my life. Today is a sad day for me and I didn’t realize how much it would really hurt.”
Her words stopped me in my tracks and made me think about how we, as healthcare leaders, by being generous with our own talents, have the power to do the same—to change, to encourage, and even to save lives. I then thought of the people who influenced me permanently; many of them were mentors whom I worked with in hospitals years ago. As the memories flooded in, I realized that healthcare leaders have a responsibility to guide with positivity (and by example). The effects, like those that Bowie had on my niece, can be immeasurable.
The thing we have in common with David Bowie is the capacity for positive, long lasting influence.
(Side note: My niece is a wildly successful artist. If you shop at any of the big-box stores, you may own some of her work!)